The Ultimate Captain

The 1970s Triple E camper windows framed the looming west coast rugged mountains like a majestic breathtaking motion picture, as my dad, the captain, pointed or vacation home on wheels confidently along the narrow winding, mountainous roads, inching dangerously close periodically to the seemingly dwarfed guardrails framing the seemingly endless valleys below.

This drive, or any other adventurous trek, was in my dad’s blood. It made his soul happy motor homing with his family.

I for one never doubted my dad’s skills. His fearless natural abilities to drive through any terrain or a trusty Manitoba blizzard for that matter, seemed to come naturally to him. His calm relaxed position in any of his captain’s chairs… one hand; two fingers actually, resting casually on the steering wheel, was a picture etched permanently into my mind over the years.

My struggles with the motion of the weaving camper along the looming mountain roads amidst the endless valleys below, found me crawling under one of the cozy camping blankets on the couch nestled just below one of the expansive windows.

My heavy eyes would close quite easily as the motion picture outside our family motorhome mile after many mile, rocked me gently into dreamland.

My security with my dad behind the wheel in the midst of the mountainous treacherous winding road, left me sleeping peacefully for many a mile of our family vacation, oblivious to the dangers. No fear.

The safety and security I felt riding in our family motorhome with my dad in the captain’s chair, through the rugged terrain and deep treacherous valleys, mere feet from our travelling home at times, was a gift to my young heart.

As beautiful as it was, it paled in comparison to the safety and peace afforded us by our Heavenly Father…

Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10.

He is with us always whether we are aware of it or not.

The rugged, towering, steep mountains and treacherous deep valleys of this world we are living in today, can leave us weak and fearful if we do not know or trust our Captain.

I knew my dad… I knew his heart. I had experienced his safety for a long while already by then. I trusted him enough to fall asleep peacefully as my dad sat in his captain’s chair, navigating for our little family.

What are you facing today? What mountain, what valley… what unseen winding road?

He promises NEVER to leave us or forsake us. Not now… not ever.

Rest in His presence. Know He sees it ALL. He is our HOPE… our ONLY hope.

I hold those sweet memories of those motorhome trips through the mountains dear to my heart so many years later now.

Knowing my Heavenly Father can be trusted infinitely more, is a place my heart can rest in, as I see the beauty amidst the looming mountains and treacherous valleys and unseen roads in our world today.

A hope Beyond hope… a peace that passes understanding, as I crawl under the covers… and sleep in security, navigating this world, resting my faith…

In my Ultimate Captain.

The Ultimate Pursuit

3 months had come and gone.

Many moments of memories already passed. The first Father’s Day… my dad’s birthday… my birthday… and so many more special occasions had stepped heavy on my heart memories.

All happened in this new season without Dad here on planet Earth.

A few visits to both Mom and Dad’s resting place reminded me of how real it really had become.

It didn’t seem at all right. It was all a new season…. a new day.

Running my errands that day, my list included a connect with one of my dad’s brothers. Joy rushed over my heart as the familiarity this brother brought helped me feel a little closer to my dad in this moment.

I soaked in the memories shared about his brother…My dad… A little piece of Heaven for my heart.

One beautiful memory stood tall above the rest in my heart.

As the story went, my dad had been laid up for about a week at the young age of 17 with a bout of the mumps back in the early 60s.

Sleep, eat, sleep, eat, and then sleep some more. This brought back memories of my dad when I was a child, sleeping away the flu and fevers. It was his best medicine as this story went… On day 7 he announced he was better and was going to see my mom. “I’m going to see Erna.”

They were newly dating and a way was needed to be caught up with his sweetheart.

There was just one problem… the back roads where my dad and his brothers homestead existed, were buried under snow, and winter was not being kind at all to anyone who attempted to venture out.

But as I had experienced in the ensuing decades as a young witness in the back of my dad’s 66 Mercury as a wide-eyed child, the Manitoba winters were not a hindrance to my dad’s determination.

No road was too closed for my dad it seemed. And I believed him… Always.

My uncle continued with the coveted story, adding that his brother had enlisted him and his other brother with a couple of shovels tucked in the trunk along with some mighty heavy tires to weigh down the 55 Ford in anticipation of the nearly impossible snow-packed backroads.

My Dad’s plan was set into action… “I’m going to see Erna” was dad’s mantra.

There was no stopping him. The trio of brothers piled into my dad’s Ford and proceeded off the old country driveway and pointed the car to its coveted destination. His high school sweetheart… my mom.

By now, my smiling heart was leaping in anticipation of what was going to happen next. I felt it was as if I was right there in my dad’s car with the trio of brothers.

Oh how I wished that to be true in that moment.

My uncle continued the story with a far away look in his eyes as if he too were back in my dad’s 55 Ford, attempting the sometimes car window high snow drifts.

As my dad’s determined heavy foot gave speed to the weaving car through the almost impassable drifts, the speedometer leaned intensely to the right, passing each number higher and higher. It would have screamed if it could I’m sure as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” accompanied the quest from the 60s 8-track, nestled securely in the dashboard slot.

The brothers held on as the tires barely made an impression on the hard snow drifts as speed seemed to skate dad’s car over each building drift that seemed to taunt him.

But to Erna he must get.

The brothers had not needed the hastily loaded shovels at all till now, but as fate would have it, the 55 Ford came to an abrupt halt just 10 feet from the end of the drift filled back road.

So out came the shovels. My dad was on a mission and wasn’t about to stop now… “I’m going to see Erna.”

As the last ten feet of drift was painstakingly shoveled, the two brothers bid my dad on his way, the car now a faint memory in the cloud of snow…. closer and closer as my dad rounded the country corner with my mom’s homestead in sight.

His pursuit of the one he loved had been a success through the seemingly impossible. My dad’s determination had won.

As this beautiful story came to an end and we went about our own ways, I couldn’t help but liken this story to our pursuit of our God, amidst the “snow drifts” which life hands us.

It is the snow drifts invisibility the storms of life throw at us that get in the way of the pursuit of our God.

Yet regardless of our pursuit, the Word tells us our God goes to much greater lengths to get to us through the “snowdrifts” of our hearts.

His love, the depths of which He says is as far from the East is from the West… deeper than the deepest ocean… and higher than the highest sky… and above all, his “ultimate snowdrift”, dying on the cross for us during His quest for each of us to make a way to Eternity with Him.

Our “yes” to this amazing love is our ticket.

My heart smiled wide at the thought of my dad’s determination to see my mom.

I admired his pursuit of the one he loved.

Yet it doesn’t compare to the love of our God’s love for us and the pursuit that was His heart…

Is almost too good to be true. But here it is…. His amazing love

The ultimate Pursuit.

NEW BOOK!

My second Book of the Collection Series is available now @Amazon.ca as well as direct from me🌿
Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

A portion from every book sold, 1&2, will be donated to a cause dear to my heart having 4 daughters myself.

Sex trafficking is a devastating and very real problem even in our most local areas sad to say.
The Joy Smith Foundation is committed to rescuing these victims and giving them hope of a better life in their healing journey.

I found it fitting her name was Joy as well❤️

Thankyou for your support!
Thankyou for your likes and shares🌿

https://www.joysmithfoundation.com/

NEW BOOK!!

It’s Here!! 🎈🎈🎉🎉

The second book of the IN THE MOMENT Collection Series has arrived and is ready for purchase!

Sneak peak availability under paperback!

As a Book Launch Special, if an E-book is purchased at its low Launch Price by May 14, a signed paperback copy is available with each E-book purchase from me personally at a discounted price of $16 no tax!!

Leave me a message here with proof of purchase and a copy will be on its way!

Thankyou for sharing in this exciting Launch day with me!!

Just keep “Painting”

His face cringed as yet another splash of 16th century paint dripped mockingly on his tired face.

“I am not in the right place… I am not a painter”. – Michelangelo

Who would have thought these words would come out of this most famous painter’s mouth.

His most famous work of art during the Renaissance in the 16th century, the Sistine Chapel, took him 14 years to complete.(1508-1512).

Along with many laments characterizing his self written poetry of his painting experience, Michelangelo penned these words: “This is torture…” My brain is crushed”… ” every gesture I make is blind and aimless”….”my thoughts are crazy”… “My painting is dead”.

14 years of these laments, torturing his mind. And yet he carried on and created one of the masterpieces of all masterpieces.

At the age of 74, Michelangelo was called to save Saint Peter’s Basilica, himself painting for many of those next 14 years and instructing other painter’s to complete his work the last years before he died at the age of 89.

How often don’t we “lament” over things we know we are called to do in our hearts, and speak to ourselves loudly some of the same poetic words of one of the ultimate Renaissance Masters.

“This is torture… My brain is crushed… Every gesture is blind and aimless… I am not a painter… My painting is dead”.

We think our efforts are futile in our calling and passion because we may have this ever-present dialogue in our minds, perhaps 14 years… or even more.

You may not be the painter of the Sistine Chapel over 400 years ago now, but you may be the painter of the 21st century of encouragement, kindness, love generosity, hope, or even the best literal painter, along with all that looks like in our own unique gifts and Passions.

Do you constantly cringe from the “paint drips”… The feeling that every step you take in your passion is “blind and aimless” and even “dead” as Michelangelo lamented, though his gift was clearly not dead?

Despite these constant thoughts and feelings, Michelangelo went on to paint and oversee the Saint Peter’s Basilica till the day he died at the age of 89.

89…

Take courage… Your thoughts and feelings don’t rule your abilities in your Passions. The world needs them. They are unique to only you on this planet of 7 billion. That fact alone makes your gift /passion priceless.

We can learn from this master painter of the 16th century. No matter or thoughts and feelings about our abilities and Passions.

Let the majestic colors of your unique gifts and Passions color your world with the brightest of the brightest hues only you can give.

But more than that, find your encouragement/ truth from the ONE who is the author of those gifts and Passions.

We may not reach 89 but we will all reach whatever day will be our last.

Make each day count and despite your self talk and discouragement… Keep moving.

And… Just keep “painting”.

Release Your Aroma of HOPE.

The air in the room seemed to pop with fireworks of pungency.

My mouth danced with an array of sensations as my other senses awakened to heights only reserved for these kinds of moments it seemed.

Fresh, bright, green baby Dill.

Every cut of my mom’s trusty serrated knife seemed to release another invisible but instant aroma cloud into the small 70s kitchen.

My heart and mind were instantly happy and my soul danced right along with my happy senses.

Gently but swiftly, my mom scooped up the fresh mound of bright green dill from her trusty well-worn cutting board, and gingerly added it to the already simmering large stock pot of delicious Mennonite soup, filled with other magical, garden fresh ingredients, all preparing to contribute to this wonderful gathering of mouth-watering wonder.

All these ingredients needed to be prepped, cut and cooked to release what only each could release. A potato released potato, dill released dill.

Sitting on the cutting board uncut, unprepped would never bring the desired aromatic soup to its best potential and serve with the aromatic taste intended.

We all have an “aroma”… gift, just waiting to be released to the world. The world needs us to share with it that which only we can contribute; the gift of US that is meant to be shared.

Sometimes that aroma will be released in joyful moments and sometimes in hard ones. Either one can break open what is hidden in each of us.

If we all choose to release our gifts/aroma, and “marry” them together with each other, the world will be a better place… happy hearts, minds and souls… A place of HOPE …

When we release our aroma of HOPE.

A Hundred Years From Now

A hundred years from now… will I see what I “see” now?… know what I “know” now?… and still believe what I “believe” now?

A hundred years from now … will I lament over losses and things I couldn’t change here on the planet?… still cry over “spilled milk”?

A hundred years from now... will I remember the Country Rose patterned dishes handed down from generation to generation placed end to end on our 15-foot harvest table?

A hundred years from now… will it matter what array of clothes hung in my closet from season to season, and how many sales I managed to find?…

will the numbers on the scale (the judge), and the size of my clothes still want to dictate my self-worth…? And will the size of my home and everything I spent money on over the years even matter?

A hundred years from now … will the rings on my fingers still symbolize my status and who I am?… Will I still be somebody’s?

A hundred years from now … will I still worry for my children and grandchildren?… will it matter who said what… and who did what?…

A hundred years from now… will I still “live in the moment” day after day, praying for every day to be better than the last in this fallen world walking through this life Journey?

I believe… A hundred years from now… the many tears shed over a lifetime will be replaced with tears of joy, and everything I’ve experienced… every tear saved in a bottle by my God will be poured out for all eternity, every drop spilling into life Everlasting with unending joy and laughter.

I believe… A hundred years from now… I will “see” like I’ve never seen before… as clearly as I ever will, and I will smile and nod my head as ALL my many… MANY questions will be answered.

I believe… A hundred years from now… the scale or measuring tape will not measure my worth, as the God of the universe will have deemed me beyond WORTHY… And I will finally believe it… and know it fully…

And my Everlasting crown of righteousness, an absolutely free gift from my God, will all be more than enough adornment for all eternity.

I believe… A hundred years from now… my home will be a promised “Mansion over the hilltop” as the century old hymns tell, prepared just for me… personally by the one who knows us more than anyone ever has or ever will.

I believe… A hundred years from now… the Country Rose china handed down from generation to generation, will be replaced by dishes made of pure gold, placed perfectly at each spot along the longest banquet table ever. A banquet of all banquets promised to all the saints that had accepted His free gift.

And then my heart will overflow at the sight of my family… My children and my children’s children finding their seats, dressed in the finest robes of Heaven as each ones name was printed in gold on each chair.

And finally… A hundred years from now… I will still “live in the moment”, but now with the cares of this Earth behind me, and I will live in much HOPE … the hope of FOREVER… just beginning…

And I will hug my mamas… my grandma… my baby… And so many more…

never ending hugs…

and all that will matter will be that moment I step into a new world…

A hundred years from now.

.

Unfinished Business

Each denim square was cut to perfection with my mom’s 1970s gold and silver sewing shears.

It was now the year 2018. The trusty 1970s scissors had cut the squares two decades earlier in hopes of creating a beautiful Jean blanket. A blanket for those sunny Clear Lake days; our annual, coveted, summer trip, lazing on the grass, overlooking the sailboats, beachgoers, and specialty shop browsers.

It truly was an important project to aim to complete, but other things… life, business… got in the way of this and a number of other projects.

My Mom’s intentions were always good like many of us are, but there never seemed enough moments in a day to accomplish all on her mental list.

2018 became the year when the Jean blanket made it to the top of her list, as her very busy days of decades past, had been slowed incredibly due to her health failing rapidly the past 9 months.

The never ending list finally had room at the top for the Jean blanket. Mom’s rapidly failing health swarted all her good intentions… and the blanket stayed… unfinished.

That same year of 2018, April 10th, just three days after mom had passed away… I came upon the large, precisely cut tower of Jean squares, tucked neatly into one corner of the spare bedroom, beside her trusty Bernina sewing machine.

So close to getting done…

The project never did get completed. Her list was always as long as her imagination was, and I’m pretty sure, in her mind, it was going to get done… someday.

But someday never came.

We all have those kinds of projects that keep getting pushed to the bottom of our list. the jean blanket project was a great intention, but not necessarily something that was a “must” to complete in her life.

Each “denim square” needs to be put into place to create/ finish the project( restoration of relationships) and other important things in our lives.

It reminds me of the projects and perhaps relationships in our lives that may have some unfinished business… the “musts” … things that truly matter in the whole scheme of things here on this planet.

We may think we have all the time in the world to get to them, but sometimes… we won’t.

If you are reading this, you obviously still have time to make some needed “projects or people” a priority. Only you will know what that may be… If any.

But I would dare to say we all have some unfinished business.

As I sit here now in 2021, almost two years after mom went to heaven, in the same spare room, my eyes falling on the tall pile of dark blue denim squares once again, still piled as neatly as the last time mom had tackled the project… I am reminded once again to make room on that never-ending list of to do’s, and get to those things that truly matter, the “musts”…

putting together the “denim squares” that will complete the project… relationships… and other important things…

And get to…

The unfinished business.

There is Hope In Sharing

The snow crunched happily under our feet as the almost 0° temperatures and the warmer mid-February south winds, made this winter walk more inviting.

Only acquaintances at best through work, our connections went deep with intermittent moments of greetings and smiling eyes no mask could prevent.

Today, as we enjoyed a lovely winter walk, along with some students, to our favourite local coffee shop, our conversation easily moved to something deeper as we both cradled are steaming coffee shop treats.

The conversation; stories, were filled with times of experienced uncertainty as the shared stories included the diagnosis of a stage 4 brain cancer for a 1 year old beautiful baby sister, and my story of a season of paralysis… GBS, my husband endured about 10 years ago now… Both amazingly in the same seasons.

Our sharing of our stories continued as we talked about the dark valley walked for all involved during those difficult moments.

As our walk was nearing its end, both our stories came to a brilliant conclusion as we both shared unexplained miracles that had been declared by doctors in both our stories, and how God had gotten the glory for all that had happened and all that could not be explained.

We had only walked a short time that day, but our hearts were blessed and uplifted in the sharing of the hope we had found in each of our lives in the midst of some very dark moments we had both experienced many years ago.

We may not all have stories that go to these depths, but I would venture to say we all have everyday moments in our lives in which we can share, to give hope to others on their Journey. Hope to take just one more step, one more day… And then another.

We all need Hope.

Today, take some time to reflect on moments in your life where hope of any kind was experience from the heart of God… And dare to share with someone… Anyone… along your journey.

Because the world needs our stories of hope…

and there is HOPE in sharing.

The “Real” Bully

My homemade jeans, sewn lovingly by my mom as she did for many years, sat snuggly on my waist as every piece of clothing usually did in those days.

My everlasting struggle with extra pounds since I had entered into this world, made even my mom’s perfect measurements and skilled sewing sit awkwardly.

It was the dead of winter… and the dreaded “arena day” had arrived way too soon again for my liking.

Grade 6 would be the beginnings of the cruel years as most were coming into their own identities, moving from the ever accepting early elementary years.

A cloud of cold air hung on my every breath, hitting my lungs hard, perhaps harder that day as it coupled with the anxiety of the unknown… The unknown of who would subtly skate by and hook my skate to plant me face-first on the cold forgiving ice, along with any cutting words to accompany the gesture.

I pointed my toe pic onto the ice, gripping the paint faded chunky door mercilessly, opened to the sprawling mass of ice, betraying my skating skills from the onset.

A rush of wind enveloped my whole being as my worst fears whizzed by my unsteady self.

Your mom still sews you boys clothes!”

Were the stinging words my ears heard as the hard cold ice came closer and closer to my face as my skate wobbled as it danced the Tango with another as “the bully” rushed by.

And there it was… what my heart had been dreading for days before…“arena day“.

The kindness of my grade 6 teacher wasn’t enough for my young heart in that moment as she led me to the bench for a short break. My bruised shins didn’t hurt nearly as much as my bruised heart.

Why”… was all I wanted to know. “What had I done”?

Oh, I know my young generous growing body did not fit into the cute little clothes the grade 6 girls of the late 70s enjoyed. But was “that” it?? Really?? And my homemade clothes??

I believe wholeheartedly I was a good person, always wore a smile even though the heartache of these encounters would pave the way far too much for the next four decades.

The diet and exercise that would accompany the next 40 years were cruel task masters in the quest to stop the bullying that would come in many different forms.

But the real bully was always with me… It was me. Yes me… Or so I believed.

Just hear me out.

For decades I tried to control me with weight loss, even when even the biggest boundaries were crossed. So much energy focussed on all my imperfections, much like a bully would do to someone else.

I was my own worst enemy… I was the real bully… or so I thought. My own personal bully when all the other bullies had gone for the day. This bully stayed with me constantly. This bully affected every area of my life for too many years, even the silence of my own thoughts.

I seemed to never escape this relentless bully.

Then one day, not too very long ago, I had had enough of this bully. Other bullies in my life still came and they still crossed my path in different forms, but they became smaller as I dealt with my inner bully.

I was tired… very tired. I had no more strength left in me to face the bullies in my life any longer. I could not change them.

But I could confront my inner bully as I started letting go of all that was not working in my life anymore… or should I say, never really had. It was not pretty. But neither was keeping the real bully around.

I started “cleaning house”.

I brought up “boxes and boxes” of hidden beliefs and lies from the “basement” of my heart. It was a mess, but as I took each “box” out the front door of my heart and loaded it on to the shoulders of my God, never to be brought back again… I started to breathe.

I started replacing those closed boxes with new open boxes that filled my heart with a sweet Aroma of self-acceptance no matter my size, my weight… no matter how many times I had failed in my eyes or others.

Self acceptance… I started to heal… Finally starting to Believe what my God had always said about me since the day I was born.

I was “fearfully and wonderfully made” despite all my shortcomings. No condemnation from the God of the universe. His promise to” never leave me or forsake me”… No matter if the whole world did, left me overwhelmed.

I was a” daughter of the most high King”…. Loved so so much! He says ” he thinks of me every second of every day… day and night, and knows me by name”.

I’m always on his mind! Who could ask for anything more!

He had never seen me as the real bully, even though I had thought it for so many years. He knew the enemy of my soul fed me those lies for so many decades.

He was the real bully.

So many years have passed since those dreaded “arena days”.

I know now who the real bully is.

Not the person behind the knocked skate…. Not the person with the cutting words…. Not even me… It was the enemy of our souls.

Today being the first day of a brand new year, I choose to believe what my God says about me in the midst of the ever-present bullies of this world influence by the real bully.

Not them… Not me…

But the true enemy of our souls… The real bully who is already defeated by the One who loves us the most.

Our God willingly gives us Hope to let go of the lies that have held us bound for too many years by the enemy of our hearts…

The real bully.